Recently, I was made aware of a very interesting book on movie flops. It is called My Year of Flops: The Onion A.V. Club Presents One Man’s Journey Deep Into the Heart of Cinematic Failure (2010) by Nathan Rabin. Mr. Rabin happens to be the first head writer of The A.V. Club, which is the real entertainment section of the satirical/ fake newspaper and website called The Onion.
I felt inspired by leafing through it. One of the most interesting things I learned was in the introduction. The author said:
While not all the movies listed in this post are included in the book My Year of Flops, I thought I would share with you some noteworthy examples of movies that just did not do well commercially at the theaters or with the critics, and in some cases both.
Here are some of the most notorious movie flops staring A-List Hollywood actors and actresses: Cleopatra (1963) staring Elizabeth Taylor, Battlefield Earth (2000) staring John Travolta, Meet Dave (2008) staring Eddie Murphy, and Windtalkers (2002) staring Nicholas Cage. It should be noted that many people dispute whether Cleopatra was really a flop at all. While it did cost $40,000,000 to make by 1967, four years after its release, it made $26,000,000 in the US and Canada. It also won four academy awards and was nominated for five more.
One group that deserves mention is the flop turned classic. These are movies that did poorly at the theaters but gained popularity and notoriety later on. This group includes: Citizen Kane (1941), Blade Runner (1982), Donnie Darko (2001), Office Space (1999), and Fight Club (1999).
For the final group I will mention some family film flops. Our first family flop, Treasure Planet (2002), a Disney animated feature, received 2.5 stars out of four from film critic Roger Ebert but did very poorly at the theatres. Around the World in 80 Days (2004) staring Jackie Chan did not do well with the critics as it was criticized for having little in common with the Jules Verne novel it was based on. M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender did well commercially, at least overseas, but won five Golden Raspberry awards, which are awards given to the worst movies of the year.
So give these flops a try and decide for yourselves if they are bad movies or if the critics or the potential viewers just got them wrong.